Suspense builds ahead of Ineos selection for Tour de France
Chris Froome on simmer as team delays final decision.
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Suspense is building ahead of who will make the grade for Team Ineos for the 2020 Tour de France.
Team officials confirmed to VeloNews that the eight-rider selection likely won’t be made this week. Initially, the team had hoped to have its final “Tour Eight” ready to go by the time the Critérium du Dauphiné wrapped up Sunday, but officials want more time, with confirmation most likely by early next week.
Team boss Dave Brailsford and the sport director staff have a wealth of riders to choose from. The team’s long list includes 10 riders, but there’s only room for eight.
All eyes are on whether or not Brailsford will bring four-time Tour winner Chris Froome back to the Tour. With Froome exiting the team to join Israel Start-Up Nation for 2021, there is some conjecture that Froome might not be selected.
So far, officials have kept their cards close to their chest about whether or not Froome will be selected. Speaking to VeloNews last month, sport director Gabriel Rasch said the team always brings the strongest riders to the Tour regardless of who is on the team’s Tour long list.
“The selection is the same always for the Tour — let’s see if you’re in shape,” Rasch said. “We are having those conversations. The final selection happens on the road. The others have to be prepared to support the strongest.”
Froome, 35, has done well to return from a career-threatening injury from the 2019 Dauphiné, but have his performances over the past three races he’s started — Route d’Occitanie, Tour de l’Ain and the Dauphiné — been impressive enough to secure his spot? Trainers and coaches will have the inside information on Froome’s power numbers, but other than a few impressive support rides, Froome was not among the leaders in any of his three races.
The quandary for the team is if Froome — who last won the Tour in 2017 — would be willing to ride in support of the likes of Egan Bernal or Geraint Thomas if he’s not in winning condition. Long accustomed to the leadership role, Froome might chafe under team orders to ride for others. Froome, however, might be willing to submit to a different hierarchy just to be able to get to the start line, and put a grand tour into his legs with the outside shot of a miracle ride.
Though the allure of a record-tying fifth yellow jersey for Froome might be tempting, Brailsford has long shown that he has little room for sentimentality when it comes to the Tour selection. In 2013, the team backed Froome and sent defending Tour champion Bradley Wiggins off packing to the Giro d’Italia.
And with Froome already having one foot out the door with his high-profile move to Israel Start-Up Nation, an exit that reveals a breakdown within the Team Ineos bus, a Tour snub might not be out of the question.
Behind Bernal and 2018 Tour champion Thomas — who has been equally as anonymous as Froome in his early races back from the COVID-19 shutdown — Team Ineos has a wealth of powerful riders ready to ride in support without rancor.
Pavel Sivakov, the promising Russian rider who is poised to make his Tour debut, has looked impressive so far this month, and could well emerge as another GC option for Team Ineos behind Bernal. Though Bernal pulled out of the Dauphiné as a precautionary move citing back pain, and Sivakov crashed Sunday, the young pair is clearly the GC future of the Ineos franchise.
Behind them are riders such as veterans Luke Rowe and Michal Kwiatkowski, two strong and experienced motors any GC captain would want on their side. Spanish workhorse Jonathan Castroviejo and Dutch all-rounder Dylan Van Baarle are both equally powerful, wily riders.
Newcomer Andrey Amador, who was a stable of the Movistar grand tour train for years, and would-be Tour rookie Tao Geoghegan Hart round out the team’s long list of 10 riders.
Last week, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that seven of the eight spots are already determined, with Froome, Amador and Geoghegan Hart all vying for the eighth and final berth.
With Jumbo-Visma breathing down their necks, Brailsford and the other sport directors will be under maximum pressure to make the right choices.
No matter what Brailsford decides, it will be one of the bigger talking points of the next several weeks. With the Tour set to start August 29 in Nice, the stakes couldn’t be higher.